By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– It’s been since 2009 since the Stayton High School Volleyball team cracked into the 4A State Playoff picture. They defeated Philomath in straight sets that year in the play-in round before dropping a tough four-set battle with Henley in the Round of 16.
The Eagles have reached the 4A Play-in round in each of the last two years, coming within one set of reaching the 4A State Playoffs this past Fall under former Head Coach Harmik Issakhanian.
Issakhanian had laid the foundation for the Stayton program when he was Head Coach, helping an Eagle program that won twice two years he arrived into a playoff contender when he left the program following this past season.
Junior Varsity Head Coach Ruth Palfenier was promoted from within to the Head Coaching position of the program, Palfenier spent the last four years as Head JV Coach before taking over the Head Varsity job entering this Fall.
“She teaches at Stayton Elementary and is very invested in the North Santiam School District. She brings tremendous knowledge of the game and is outstanding in building positive relationships with the girls,” Athletic Director Darren Shryock. “She is going to continue to build upon the solid foundation Coach Harmik leaves behind.”
Palfenier knows how tough the Oregon West Conference is behind around it the past four years. The Warriors, Sisters and Sweet Home all reached the Final Site this past year. Philomath was third, the Outlaws finished fourth and Huskies finished State Runner-Up; so the plan is going to be running a disciplined program to get the most of her players.
“I plan on running a disciplined program that encourages each player to reach their highest potential. I know some of these girls have the talent and drive to play in college and I would love to be able to help make that happen for them,” said Palfenier. “We are in a super tough league and I hope that my discipline and encouragement can ignite these girls to do amazing things. Being a part of the program for the last four years will be really beneficial as I already have relationships with both the parents and the players.
“They know my character, that I love these girls, and that I will push them hard. In fact, I have coached almost every player on the varsity team already. I think because of that, it will be a smooth transition for the program. I look forward to seeing what these girls are going to accomplish this season.”
Taylor Ellis will be the new JV coach, Alyssa Kuenzi will be the JVII head Coach.
New Highlight Coach and Cheer Coach
April Hermann takes over the legendary Highlight program from the recently retired Robin Meier. Meier won 14 State Titles, 12 straight for 2003-2014.
“April brings a vast knowledge of dance with her. While taking over a program the magnitude of Stayton High School dance is a challenge, April is more than up for it. She will make the program her own while maintaining the extraordinary standards that have already been set. We are excited for April and the kids,” said Shryock of Hermann.
Jordyn Wheeler has taken over the Cheer Program. Wheeler has previously coached at Regis, Salem Academy and Canby before arriving at Stayton High School entering this upcoming school year.
Wheeler has served on the state cheer board and is actively involved with the cheer community around the state.
“Jordyn believes in being service oriented both personally and professionally; her athletes have that same attitude. With a program like cheer, service is critical. We are very excited to have Jordyn on board. Our kids are in great hands with Jordyn leading them,” said Shryock of Wheeler.